by Becca Christensen

As an event planner, my work comes in seasons and my busiest season is fall. This fall, just as we were about to be in full swing, planning four events in three weeks in three different states, we lost an employee in my department and my workload doubled. In the midst of seven day work weeks (with travel), an increased work load, and the frustrations of trying to learn and adapt to tasks I’ve never done, I entered one of the hardest seasons friendship-wise I’ve been through yet. I experienced the betrayal of a close friend and abandonment in another relationship within a week’s time. Bottom line: I found myself losing patience.

As I called a friend to vent about my relationship situations, he challenged me to be patient. He told me to take a step back and to wait a few days before reacting. I took his advice and spent the next five days praying every morning for the people involved. I know that if I had moved forward out of impatience, I would have severed those relationships. More than that, I know that I would have been wrong. While the fault for the friction wasn’t mine, I could have undone a lot of good by reacting poorly, out of impatience. The wisdom of a friend pushed me to be patient and the Lord gave me a chance to be a peacekeeper.

Still frustrated with situations at work, a week later I boarded a plane home for Thanksgiving. I was ready to pitch my “new life plan” to my parents while I was home. I had figured out exactly how I was going to get out of this frustrating season in my life and move forward to new things.

As impatient to pitch my idea as I was to do something drastic, the first chance I got to sit next to my Dad at dinner, I put it all out there. It went something along the lines of, “So, I’m thinking about quitting my job, selling my house, moving across the country, and going to graduate school…sound good? Ok, great.” He didn’t say much but I could tell when he invited me out on a lunch date the next day, just the two of us, (a little more tactful than my choice of venue: dining out with 20 people), it wasn’t because he didn’t have anything to say.

The next day before I was headed back out of town, we met at Cracker Barrel to sit by the fire and hash out my next steps. Thankfully I was feeling a bit more open minded by the time this lunch rolled around, (it’s amazing what a few days of sleeping eight hours will do for your sanity). Dad assured me of the Lord’s promises for my life, of the Lord’s plans to prosper me. But then he said possibly the only thing that could have gotten my attention in this season of life. He reminded me of the story of Sarah, Abraham, and Hagar. Sarah wanted a child but she was unable to conceive. Time passed and Sarah got impatient and instead of waiting for the Lord’s timing, she had her husband, Abraham, sleep with her slave, Hagar. Hagar did become pregnant and she gave birth to a son, Ishmael. A few chapters later the Lord promises Sarah a child of her own by the same time next year, which He does in fact provide. However, Sarah’s lack of patience made her path harder than it had to be and her family was at war with itself as a result (you can find this story in Genesis 16).

What my Dad was trying to tell me was that the Lord’s timing is perfect and His will is sovereign. Even though my frustrations were valid and it was normal to feel antsy at this time, he reminded me that now is the time to learn patience. To be still and wait on the Lord. He simple said, “Don’t miss what the Lord has for you because you’re impatient. The Lord wants to bless you, teach you, and provide for you.” He also reminded me of all the Lord has already done. Some of you, like me and the Israelites, might find yourself wandering in the desert acting like the Lord didn’t just bring you out of slavery. When we’re in a season of waiting for what God will do next, we all need to be reminded of what the Lord has already done in our lives.

What the Lord is teaching me about patience is this; when I feel anxious to act, it is often the time when I should do my most patient waiting and careful listening. We do not serve an idle God. He is always at work. He must have known this would be hard for us to remember, because in Isaiah 55:8 He reminds us, My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. What a reminder that as we become anxious and we want to move ahead, His ways are beyond my imagination.

The Lord desires each of us to be patient. He added patience to the list of Fruits of the Spirit. He reminds us to be patient over and over in His word. One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:12, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

In my own life I know the consequences of impatience can be harsh. When I get ahead of the Lord’s timing, I wreak havoc. Patience is perhaps one of the hardest Fruits of the Spirit to demonstrate, yet it reaps the most benefits. “Patience in affliction.” I read it now as a word of caution. In relationships, in work, and in life when we are patient in our affliction and take time to remember what God has done for us, He will protect us from potential crisis as we wait on His timing and plan.

 

Becca Christensen works as an event specialist in the non-profit/sports world. She loves to bake, travel, read, blog, spend time with family, and root on the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to contributing to the Beautiful Blog, Becca attends Beautiful Monday Nights. You can read more about Becca on her blog, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. 

by Renee Scott

There are times in my life when the peace of God overtakes me and I feel like I can conquer the world.  I stand confident in the fact that nothing will hinder God’s purpose in my life.  Those are the moments when I truly live out the promise that God will give me peace that passes human understanding. 

Then there are times when I feel like God is nowhere near.  I pray and I wonder if He hears.  I try and find peace in the middle of my doubts and fears but the worry of the situation can take over.  Even though I’ve grown up in church, study His word, and share it with others, I still have times when I have to search for peace like so many others.

I’m not sure why those moments of uncertainty creep in because God’s word is clear.  Early in scripture Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.”  He also tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV), “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  It’s obvious that God wants us rock solid in our faith!  He desires for us to have peace but for us to bear the fruit of peace, we must possess it within. We can’t give to others what we don’t securely own. 

It’s important to understand that peace is not the absence of adversity.  Instead it’s calm in the center of turbulence.  Challenges in our life are a given but peace can only come through Christ.  I wanted to share just a few ways that I find peace:

Prayer:

Having a simple conversation with God will be of assistance to encourage you.  Crying out to Him while sharing your doubts and fears help to bring a positive outlook on the situation.

Reading Scriptures:

There are scriptures to deal with every challenge under the sun.  Whether you’re dealing with children, finances, marriage or other issues, there are passages of scripture to encourage you along the journey.  Most Bibles have a glossary that will lead you to scriptures based on common subjects.

Writing/Journaling:

Sometimes the peace of God arises within me after I have soaked my journal with tears.  Writing is a place where I can explode through the written word.  It provides me an opportunity to spill out my feelings on the paper because keeping my emotions bottled up can be detrimental.

Focusing my thoughts:

I often focus on the problems in my life.  I hesitate to give full thought to how much God has blessed my life.  I’ve come to learn that whatever you focus on will expand in your mind.  A simple thought will soon become a large, worrisome, avalanche of a problem.  Satan knows that if he’s able to take our thoughts away from the wonderful provision of Christ, he would have accomplished his task.  Whenever I feel myself concentrating on the problem versus God’s blessings, I quickly stop the thought process by reciting out loud Philippians 4:8 (NLT) “Christian brothers, keep your minds thinking about whatever is true, whatever is respected, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever can be loved, and whatever is well thought of.  If there is anything good and worth giving thanks for, think about these things.”

My prayer is that in the middle of your circumstance, you will find peace.  It starts with an ability to trust God at His word.  Once the peace of God rises within, you will be able to share it with others. 

 

Renee ScottRenee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog, Double Portion Inspiration, where she shares encouragement and inspiration to men and women all over the world.  She’s been a member of Grace Family Church for four years. She loves to run and recently completed her first half marathon. She is a wife of over 14 years and mother of two children. 

by Julie Jaunese

Some people think of joy as a goal.  Some think it is more of a result of someone’s personality.  But how can joy be a result of a personality?   How can you achieve joy?  Read on…..

When I was a little girl my mom was part of the JOY club at church.  She explained to me that joy was about being a Christian and each letter stood for something we needed to remember:

  • J is for Jesus
  • O is for Others
  • Y is for Yourself

Mom said you always put Jesus first, then others and lastly yourself.  I am so glad my mother taught me this very simple thing. 

We should always put Jesus first.  When we are in time of trouble, we run to Him!  Who else could love us so much?  We should remember to always thank Him for His love, His caring, His desire for a relationship with us.  A good friend once said, “We all look for solutions to our problems by looking to the world first, then when we are desperate enough, we turn to God.”  We should turn to Jesus first, not after we have exhausted our options.

Next, we should spend our time caring about others.  Are you able to see a need that you can help someone with?  When someone tells you about their troubles or shares with you a praise report, what is the first thing you do?  Do you say you keep them in your prayers or do you stop right then and pray for them?  When we follow God’s design we should stop and pray for them right then.

The last letter stands for yourself. We live in a society right now that puts all of its value on ME, ME, ME. We are told you need to take care of “numero uno.” True joy comes from loving others, from concentrating on their needs and from doing for others.  We, ourselves, should be last, not first.  When we are teaching our children, we should encourage them in those three simple letters – JOY.  When we use JOY as Jesus, Others and Yourself, in that order, you will find JOY.

In John 15:11-13 Jesus says, “I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your JOY may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.”

This Christmas season, remember Jesus is the reason for the season.  Our JOY begins with Him. Next find someone to bless that isn’t expecting it.  Ask your children to find a special person to bless.  Be sure you know why they choose their special person. We started doing this yearly while our girls were in grade school.  One year they picked Mannie, the maintenance person at their school.  When we talked to the girls they both said the same thing, they choose him because he always had a smile on his face when the kids arrived at school. He never said he would “get to something” a teacher asked for. He would say he would be right back with his tools – and he came right back with his tools.  The girls wrote him a letter telling why they were blessing him.  Years later my husband was substitute teaching in the school and Mannie recognized him and asked him to come to his office.  There was the framed letter on his wall.   It blessed us to know how much this special gesture of caring meant to him.

Use JOY in your life.  Have a relationship with Jesus first, then care for others before yourself – that will bring JOY to your life.

 

Julie Jaunese has been married to her husband Michael for 41 years. She has two daughters and three grandchildren. She works at Moffitt Cancer Center and hosts two women’s small groups, the Yada Book Club and the Fabulous Fems. Mike and Julie have been part of Grace Family Church since it began with 40 people in a house. 

 By Kristin Bonham

We are starting a new series this month on the Fruit of the Spirit.  

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The Fruit of the Spirit is evidence that the Spirit of God is in us!  God’s spirit cannot help but produce this fruit in us.  So why do we continue to need to work on specific areas?  Will we ever get it?  Can we speed up the process?  Does our effort really work to produce this fruit?  This month you will hear from women who are working through the answers to these questions.  

 

Love is used to describe so many different things.  “I love you” is said to those we truly care about and have affection for.  “I love your dress!” is a term of admiration when things appeal to us.  “I love this song” could be the feeling we have because certain emotions are stirred up.  Love is a broad word and these are just a few of the ways it is used.

What does God say about Love?

I Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love never gives up. 
Love cares more for others than for self.  Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.  Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,”
doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel,
takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.

The common thing that stands out to me about this passage is that love puts others first. A few years ago, I was feeling the Holy Spirit nudging me about how I was loving others.  I thought I was doing pretty good working on that fruit!  God showed me that I had no problem showing love when things were going my way or there was peace and harmony.   When my expectations were met,  I felt the love!  On the contrary, when my expectations were not met or when I was frustrated, stressed, or busy, there was no love.  I felt the Holy Spirit showing me that I was selfish and there is no way I can love others by my own efforts because love isn’t about my expectations or lack of busyness.  Only with His help, could I be capable of love.  I had to surrender.  Instead of focusing on trying to show love, my focus had to be surrendering to God.

I realized that I had a “Me” focus including the way I was trying to show love.  It was like an item on my list of things to do to prove I was a good Christian or a growing Christian.  God began teaching me to be aware of who is around me.  When I’m busy thinking about my day, life, or struggle and thinking of all the things I need to get done, I don’t even notice who I’m bumping into… people I may see weekly.  I was going to the same grocery store, restaurants, church, etc and not even acknowledging people whose faces I saw all the time.  Once I realized this, I felt terrible!  I also discovered that a major obstacle in showing love is my busyness. 

Over a year ago, I met my friend Barbara at church.  She always sits in the same spot up near the front where I like to sit.  Because I’m usually greeting, I have a hard time getting a good seat!  So, I found myself always scooting into the seat next to Barbara.  One day, I turned and asked her about herself.  That was the beginning of a beautiful Sunday morning friendship.  I know about her life, about her daughters, her mom, her job and vacations.  And she knows about my life!  I love seeing her on Sunday and miss her when I don’t.  My life is richer because I know Barbara.  

I don’t know about you, but all my effort to show love is useless unless I do the very first thing first.  Surrender.  I have to leave room for God to lead me.  I have to get ME out of the way so that His fruit will grow in me.  There is a constant struggle because I want to put ME first.  My nature is to be selfish and look out of number 1… that’s what culture tells me to do.

I am not perfect by any means.  I am known for being very focused and not seeing what’s around me.  I pray that God would remind me to put others first starting with paying attention to who is in my life on a daily basis.  When I do this, there is a better chance that I Corinthians 13 will be true about me because the fruit of the Spirit has a chance to show through my life to others.   

 

Kristin Bonham is a pastor’s wife and the Women’s Ministry Director at Grace Family Church. She’s been married to Chris for 24 years and is mom to Taylor, Abby and Casey. She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Pastor Chris to anywhere tropical. She collects books and reads some of them. Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with family and friends around the table.